Tiff Evans, Voices From Care Cymru
Voices From Care Cymru exists to improve the lives of care experienced children and young people in Wales by being an independent voice for the care community. During the summer of 2019 we held a series of workshops for care experienced young people from across Wales. The task was to help us understand the topics that are of most importance to care experienced young people.
The 5 key areas that received the most votes were:
- Mental Health and Mental Health Services – “This is important for individuals who are unable to deal with their own issues. Past experiences, anxiety and depression can cause mental health issues which then have a knock-on effect with life.”
- The Importance of Sibling Contact – “this will help young people feel like they are able to keep the relationship and bonds with their families and not be cut off from them. Also helps to make them feel secure and protected.”
- The importance of Love – “this is important for care experienced young people to feel that they are loved by someone. It does not have to be in any particular way but everyone wants to be loved and by having someone doing that can increase their morale and help them to feel they are worthy.”
- Stigma – “Young people in care have the label/stigma that they cannot do things that others can do. It does not matter that they are care experienced, it is about recognising that they have hopes and dreams just like everyone else!”
- The importance of Stability – “this is important for a young person to feel happy and stable within their home. Whether it’s foster care, residential or independent living young people do not want to keep moving around as they are unable to build positive relationships with others and they are made to feel that they cannot settle anywhere as their placement is not stable.”
This has formed the basis of our work over the 3 years. Our research with NSPCC called Listen, Act Thriveexplored young people’s experiences of Mental Health. In 2019 we held our ‘Rethinking Contact conference’; which explored the terminology & process around build positive and last relationships with siblings. Most recently our 1,000 Voices manifesto for the 2021 Senedd Cymru elections was built on these key areas and further developed with care experienced young people.
We can’t escape the fact that the Covid-19 Pandemic has had a significant impact on care experienced young people. Last summer Voices From Care Cymru and CASCADE explored the impact COVID 19 had on care leavers.
“It’s nothing like compared to what it was before. When it was normal, the help was immaculate but you can’t do anything. Staff can’t do very much now to what it was.”
“They understand where we are at, and a lot of us care kids and care leavers just want someone to love us and care about us, chat to us and sometimes when I get that feeling like someone is my uncle, I love it and I know they have done a good job. They have been great. Workers who want the best for you, who remember things about you and are fighting your corner.”
If you are care experienced and would like hear more about what we do at Voices, get in touch:
Facebook: Voices From Care Cymru
If you are a practitioner and are interested in finding more about our work with Care experienced children and young people you can contact us:
Facebook: Voices From Care Cymru